10/04/2006 11:00PM

So far, Circular Quay perfect in every way

Brandon Benson/NYRA
Circular Quay, a Thunder Gulch colt bred and owned by Michael Tabor, will break from post 1 in a field of eight in Saturday's Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Circular Quay's record indicates he is perfect - but the way he has won his races might be even better.

Rare indeed is a colt who has ascended to the top of the 2-year-old division by using a stretch-running style more closely associated with mature racehorses. Circular Quay has rallied from well behind to win all three of his starts, all sprints, and when he runs as an odds-on favorite in the Grade 1, $500,000 on Saturday at Keeneland, he will be trying to prove that his come-from-behind style can be equally effective in two-turn races.

The 1 1/16-mile Breeders' Futurity will be the final prep for the Nov. 4 Breeders' Cup Juvenile for Circular Quay, a Todd Pletcher-trained colt whose latest triumph in the Sept. 4 Hopeful Stakes was about as devastating a victory as a 2-year-old can register in Grade 1 company. Last of five in the early going, the colt blew away his four rivals with a sensational stretch run that left him 4 1/4 lengths in front at the wire, and, more importantly, atop the division.

Michael McCarthy, who as the Kentucky-based assistant to Pletcher worked closely with Circular Quay before, during, and after the colt won his first two races, both at Churchill Downs, said he can find no fault with him.

"It's kind of deceiving to watch him train in the morning, because he doesn't do anything spectacular," said McCarthy. "He's not real big or real flashy, but he is very well put together and very balanced. Probably the best things he has going for him is he's very professional, and he's very, very laid back. Nothing ever bothers him, and you barely even know he's around."

In his races, however, Circular Quay certainly has made his presence felt - at least in the late going. After rallying from fourth to win his June 15 debut by 6 1/4 lengths, he rescued victory from apparent defeat in the July 8 Bashford Manor Stakes, passing four horses in the final furlong while raising the eyebrows of those who witnessed the eye-catching move. Then came the Hopeful, in which the colt actually got away slowly from the gate before drawing off with a flourish as part of a 4-5 favored entry.

"I can't say it was any great surprise to us, the way he won the Hopeful," McCarthy said, before adding with glowing understatement, "But for a 2-year-old, he sure did come with an impressive run, didn't he?"

Circular Quay, a Thunder Gulch colt bred and owned by Michael Tabor, will break from post 1 in a field of eight. Garrett Gomez, who inherited the mount in the Hopeful in the absence of then-injured Rafael Bejarano, has the call again Saturday. Pletcher himself, while scheduled to be at Keeneland on Friday and Sunday, will be in New York for several important races at Belmont Park.

Besides Circular Quay, the field for the 93rd Breeders' Futurity also includes the capable West Coast invader Great Hunter, who already has been second in three stakes, most recently the Del Mar Futurity, and Passport, the unbeaten winner of the Cradle Stakes at River Downs. The rest of the field consists of French Transition, Teuflesberg, Birdbirdistheword, Street Sense, and Bold Start.

The Breeders' Futurity is carded as the eighth of 10 races on an afternoon expected to draw some 30,000 ontrack fans. Also on tap are the $250,000 Phoenix Breeders' Cup (race 7) and the richest race of the 17-day fall meet, the $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (race 9). First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.